Members of The Mercury’s news staff took 12 awards in the annual Kansas Press Association contest this year, including eight first-place finishes, three second-places and one third.

The Mercury competes in the division that includes that state’s largest daily newspapers. The contest encompassed work from Nov. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019. The association will present the awards at a conference in March.

First-place finishers:

• Rafael Garcia, local business story, for his piece recalling the former Vern’s Donuts location during an estate sale at the location.

• Megan Moser, seniors story, for her piece on 108-year-old (now 109-year-old) Julia Kabance.

• Bryan Richardson, health story, for his piece on Ascension Via Christi Hospital having to send patients away because of staffing issues.

• Savannah Rattanavong, environmental story, for her piece on Monarch butterflies and their migration through the area.

• Hailey Dixon and Nickolas Oatley, story/picture combination, for their package on the turtle races at the annual Leonardville Hullabaloo.

• Nickolas Oatley, feature photo, for one of those adorable shots at the same turtle race event.

• Nickolas Oatley, photo package, for his many, many photos of the Powercat, which accompanied an oral history of the logo.

• Nickolas Oatley, environmental portrait, for his photo of Acme Gift manager April Wagnon.

Second-place finishers:

• Bryan Richardson, religion story, for his piece on how local churches have joined forces to feed hungry people throughout the week.

• Rafael Garcia and Matt Lunsford, story/picture combination, for their package on local kids learning circus skills at Little Apple Circus Camp.

• Nickolas Oatley, general news photo.

Third-place finisher:

• Bryan Richardson, youth story, for his piece on kids learning to cook during a class at JP’s in the K-State Student Union.